The type-in listing scene for 8-bit home computers gave us some genuinely excellent games — with some even rivalling commercially released counterparts.
Such is the case with the unusually named Unicum, a take on the Arkanoid-style block-breaking formula that many regard as significantly superior to the official port of Taito’s classic to Atari 8-bit.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, “Unicum” is apparently a Hungarian liqueur, though whether or not that actually has anything to do with this game is anyone’s guess. Be sure to subscribe on YouTube for more valuable facts about international culture!
Mid to late ’80s Taito were good at a lot of things, but one thing they were particularly good at was iterating on an established formula and bringing it more “up to date”.
Probably the most famous example of this is Arkanoid, a game which took the incredibly simple concept of Atari’s Breakout — hit ball with paddle to destroy bricks, repeat until screen clear or player displays sufficient incompetence — and enhanced it with “enemies”, powerups and a wide variety of different levels.
Well, as Arkanoid was to Breakout, so Volfied was to Qix. At least this time around they ripped off their own game…
Continue reading Taito Essentials: Volfied
In many cases the games that are part of D3 Publisher’s sprawling budget-price Simple Series are enjoyably experimental, while in others they simply represent traditional gaming genres brought up to date with modern (for the time) visuals and sound.
Bust-a-Bloc, or The Block Kuzushi Hyper as it was known in Japan, occupies a space somewhere between these two approaches: it’s an adaptation of one of the oldest types of game around, but it adds some interesting and experimental twists on the formula to make it surprisingly distinct from its peers in an incredibly crowded genre.
As you can probably determine from its title, Bust-a-Bloc is a Breakout-type game in which you hit a ball with a paddle in order to destroy blocks — indeed, this genre of game is simply known as “block kuzushi” (block destruction) in Japan, so the title is another example of the Simple Series’ charmingly literal title scheme — but it’s the game’s few additions to the formula that make it noteworthy, and well worth spending some time with.
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Bust-a-Bloc